It's amazing how I forget so quickly how Pilates makes me feel. At one time I was a regular in a one-hour weekend class. The instructor was a bubbly, chatty woman who followed much the same routine every week and even used the same banter -- "That's cheater-lates" she would say as she demonstrated a move that her students would routinely fudge on. Or when doing the side series of exercises she would always say, "Remember, Jane Fonda? That's not it. Slower is more difficult."
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The others in the class -- ranging in age from 20-somethings to 70-somethings -- always seemed more at ease and more capable. (Later, I learned that most were attending classes several days a week, which made me feel better.) There were moves, particularly those that involved swinging the body over the head, and even "curling up" from a prone position on the floor that I either couldn't do (neck issues) or needed help with (lack of core strength.)
None of that mattered though. I always felt like a million bucks after the class. Somehow stretched out and centered, and just a little bit taller, just as if I'd had a session with a chiropractor. And every week I would be just as amazed by its therapeutic effects, only then recollecting how I'd felt the week before.
This is in the past tense up to now because the one disadvantage of Pilates is that if you have aches and pains, it's unforgiving. So, a nagging case of "tennis elbow," a sore elbow that would rule out some of the exercises, gave me an excuse to take a long break.
A couple of weeks ago I returned to the mat. It's incredible the way the discipline -- this was with a different, much younger instructor with a different approach but the same results -- puts you in tune with your body. The simplest movement, turning a foot by a degree, lifting your head, pushing your abdomen to the floor, any movement by any degree changes the feeling, the difficulty, the muscles pushed and stretched. This instructor focuses more on the breathing, something I've always struggled with -- the inhale/exhale always seems counterintuitive but I'm starting to see how it affects movement and its ease or difficulty.
For someone who's neither supple nor strong, Pilates is an ongoing revelation. I'm back on track. The next move will be to increase the number of times I go to class ...
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